Cognitive Skills and Early Life Conditions in a Developing Country Context: How Do Innovations in Measurement Enhance the Picture?

Amar A. Hamoudi, Duke University
Santiago Cueto, Grupo de Análisis para el Desarrollo (GRADE)
Sofya Krutikova, Institute For Fiscal Studies
Alan Sanchez, Grupo de Análisis para el Desarrollo (GRADE)
Margaret Sheridan, Harvard University

“Executive functioning” (EF) is likely to be an important form of human capital; it comprises cognitive skills that underlie an individual’s capacity to direct resources in pursuit of a goal. In recent years, technological change has presented a valuable opportunity for innovation in the measurement of these skills in large population representative samples. We developed a suite of laboratory-validated cognitive skills assessments administered on touchscreen tablet PCs. We are deploying them on a population-based sample of over 2000 Peruvian children aged 12-14 and over 700 of their younger siblings, as part of wave 4 of an ongoing panel survey called the Young Lives study (YL). We will link participants’ performance on the cognitive assessments to the rich set of socioeconomic and developmental measures available from 10 years of YL survey data. Using these data, we examine novel questions around early-life conditions and child development.

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Presented in Session 120: New Data Collection Techniques